A longtime resident of Clemson offered this description of his hometown the other day: "It may not be the end of the world, but you sure can see it from here."
If the Tigers' national football championship a year ago was the biggest thing that happened here since the Battle of Cowpens during the Revolutionary War, then the suspension of Clemson quarterback Homer Jordan Saturday ranks right up there.
The story occupied the lead position on Page 1 of Sunday's Anderson Independent-Mail. The explosions in Beirut and Tehran rated Page 7.
Many establishments feature annual IPTAY stickers, denoting membership in the Clemson booster organization that once stood for "I Pay Ten a Year," but now substitutes Thirty for Ten and has more than 17,000 members.
It was his association with IPTAY member Gene Tollison of nearby Easley, as both employe and reported associate in a car purchase, that apparently has placed Jordan in his current difficulties.
The extent of those difficulties remains unknown, as Jordan and Coach Danny Ford continue to refuse to comment on Jordan's absence from Saturday's game against Kentucky, when he was held out by Bill Atchley, Clemson's president. Atchley was in Charleston today and his office said he had another commitment in that area Tuesday. In any event, Atchley's statement Saturday said there would be no further comment.
Jordan practiced with the team tonight, and Ford said he expects Jordan to play Saturday night at Virginia. However, Atchley obviously could decide to withhold Jordan from that game, too.
It seems plausible that Clemson will avoid using Jordan until the NCAA Committee on Infractions issues a report, expected this month, on its investigation of Clemson football, which has been ongoing since January 1981.
NCAA investigators recently questioned Jordan for four hours, according to a statement released by John Hagins, Jordan's attorney. Hagins said that interview followed an earlier three-hour session, as well as an examination of Jordan's bank records and a three-hour interrogation of bank officers.
"We have gotten information from the bank and asked questions for the NCAA which it otherwise would not have gotten," Hagins said. "We have asked a number of questions which have yet to be answered by the NCAA. We have again asked them to point out to us what they consider that Homer has done wrong and, at best, the NCAA has a technical rule that if the student-athlete has received any form of benefit, regardless of whether he knew it or not, there may be a violation. It is a very small item.
"It is a sad thing that intelligent adults have not been able to devise a better system for the individual student rather than pursuing some theoretical virtues. I am proud to be associated with Homer and I'm a little ashamed of being an adult. If I didn't have so much confidence in President Atchley and Danny Ford, as does Homer, it would be a sad day. I am satisfied that we will come out okay."
Clemson is particularly touchy about the NCAA investigation because it recently completed three years of basketball probation for offenses committed when Tates Locke was coach in the mid-1970s.
The monetary stakes are high, especially if the NCAA should bar Clemson not only from bowl and television appearances, but also from sharing in TV revenue generated by other Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
To illustrate the stakes, Clemson was paid $550,000 for its national TV appearance against Georgia Sept. 6, plus $150,000 for shifting the date of the game. It received $350,000 total, with the TV fee divided 11 ways by the conference and Clemson receiving four-elevenths, or $200,000. When Virginia played Navy on regional television, Clemson received one-eleventh of Virginia's approximate $300,000 share, or about $27,000.